Monday, December 9, 2013


Fizdale (l) and Gold (r)

None of the magazines and newspapers I read these days ever seem to mention the pianists, cooks and authors Arthur Gold (1917-1990) and Robert Fizdale (1920-1995).

This wasn't always the case. 

As musicians, Gold and Fizdale performed from the 1940s through the 1970s as a two-piano team on the international classical concert circuit.  "The Boys," as they were known to their many celebrated musical, literary and culinary friends, championed the work of modern composers and commissioned and premiered important 20th century piano works, including compositions by John Cage, Virgil Thompson, Paul Bowles, Ned Rorem, and the group of French composers pictured below, known as Les Six.

Les Six plus one (Jean Cocteau at piano) in the 1920s: Darius Milhaud, outline of Georges Auric, Arthur Honegger, Germaine Tailleferre, Francis Poulenc, and Louis Durey (file photo)

As writers (a profession they adopted after Gold began suffering problems with his hands, which affected his playing), they published biographies, including "Misia: the Life of Misia Sert" (William Morrow 1981), "The Divine Sarah: a Biography of Sarah Bernhardt" (Knopf 1991), as well as journalism for Vogue and the excellent "Gold and Fizdale Cookbook" (Random House, 1984), a superb collection of recipes and travel/music/musician/dance and dancer lore.

The following two recipes only hint at the book’s qualities (the recipes are really good and well-written; it is also a handsome, well laid-out volume), but give no real idea of G&F's range.

No matter – braised endives are, I think, my favorite dish [1] and George Balanchine’s mother’s Gogl-Mogl recalls events from my own childhood.  My mother’s father was Russian and she occasionally served something similar to my brother and me.  I hadn’t thought about that until just a moment ago.  Because my grandfather was basically non-communicative for most of the time I knew him (apparently, this wasn't always the case), the egg and sugar froth sparkles this memory.

So: Vive Gold and Fizdale!  Vive Gogl-Mogl!  And Vive La Belgique -- home of the (Belgian) endive (aka witloof) and my friend Marvin Siau of Starvin Marvin and the Paranoid Androids!

Braised Endives
(Endive Braisées)

12 medium-size endives
1 stick (1/4 pound) butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Juice of half a lemon
¼ cup chicken broth or water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

     Trim off the root ends with a small knife, and discard any wilted outer leaves.  Never let endive sit in water, as that will exaggerate the bitterness.  If they are fairly clean to start with, just wipe them with a damp cloth.

     Generously butter the bottom of a 3-quart flameproof enameled casserole and arrange the endives close together in two layers.   Season each layer with salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Dot with the remaining butter.  Add the broth or water.  Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, then boil, uncovered, for another 10 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced to a few tablespoons.  Cut a round of paper to fit the top of the casserole and butter it well.  Lay the paper, buttered side down, on the endive, cover the casserole and bake for about 1 hour.

OPTIONAL:  When cooked, arrange the braised endives in a shallow baking dish, dot with more butter, and brown under the broiler for a minute or two.
6 servings.


“Like Proust’s Madeleine, gogl-mogl, a frothy mixture of egg yolks whipped with sugar, evoked Balanchine’s childhood for him.  ‘At bedtime, my brother, sister and I sat around Mama in a semi-circle.  She had a glass of gogl-mogl and a spoon.  While she fed one, the other two watched to see who got the biggest spoonful.  We were like little birds in a nest fed by the mama bird.”

6 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
½ tablespoon vanilla

Put all the ingredients in the top of a double-boiler over simmering water.  Beating continuously, heat until light, fluffy, and somewhat thick.  Pour into a bowl or into wineglasses and chill.


[1]   Because, as I mentioned, braised endives are about my favorite thing to eat, I thought I would include the preparation below, which is the one I use most often. I think it's one of Pierre Franey's 60 Minute Gourmet recipes and is simpler and much quicker to make than the Gold and Fizdale version.  Endive season is upon us. We recently found a good and inexpensive local source -- Gentile's on Route 252 in Newtown Square, PA -- for this prized, once much rarer item. 

 Braised Shredded Endives

1 1/4 lbs. fresh Belgian endive
2 tbsp. butter
Juice of half a lemon or lime
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. sugar

1.  Trim off the ends of each endive.  Place the endives on a flat surface and cut on the diagonal into very thin strips.  There should be about 6 cups of shredded endives. 

2.  Heat the butter in a heavy skillet and add the endives.  Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper and sugar.

3.  Cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes or until wilted.  Cover and cook about 8 minutes.  Uncover and continue cooking, stirring often, about 3 or 4 minutes until lightly browned.

Musical accompaniment:

B:  Starvin Marvin and the Paranoid Androids: Working For Success

Finale: I originally posted this entry a couple of years ago, but it has proved popular.  Since Blogger continues to strip illustrations from older posts, and because it is once again, really and truly, braised endive season, I thought it was time to rescue and renew it.

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